Kendrick Solid After Rough Start in Phillies Sweep of San Diego

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Kendrick had a shaky start against the Padre, but recovered with a solid outing with five strikeouts on seven hits with one earned run.

Kendrick had a shaky start against the Padre, but recovered with a solid outing with five strikeouts on seven hits with one earned run.

PHILADELPHIA—One of the things that has killed Kyle Kendrick (2-6, 4.09) in his starts this season is his penchant for struggling in the early innings.
And so what does Kendrick do in Thursday’s game against the San Diego Padres?

Kendrick gave up two runs in the first inning. It came courtesy of an RBI double by Padres third baseman Chase Headley that scored Will Venable. An error by right fielder Marlon Byrd enabled left fielder Seth Smith to score from first to give San Diego a 2-0 lead.

After the first inning, Kendrick settled down and found his groove while keeping San Diego off the scoreboard for the rest of his outing. He also got some much needed run support from the offense to get his second win of the season.

“It was about getting ahead (in the count),” Kendrick said. “After that it was strike one and making quality pitches. I was down and getting some bad contact.”

Thanks to a huge day by John Mayberry Jr. and some clutch hitting by pinch hitter Reid Brignac, the Phillies came away with a 7-3 win to complete a three-game sweep of the Padres at Citizen’s Bank Park.

It was the Phils’ second series sweep of the season since doing it to the Miami Marlins back in April (11-13).

“After the first inning, we had some good starting pitching, our bullpen was good and we had some base-runners and some clutch hitting,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “It’s something that we want continue to do.

Starting off this homestand with the sweep can go a long way for us.”

The Phillies offense broke open a 2-2 game coming into the bottom of the sixth inning by scoring the game’s next five runs—at two-run RBI double by Brignac in the sixth off Padres reliever Dale Thayer and a three-homer by Mayberry in the bottom of the seventh.

Mayberry’s long drive sealed it for the Phillies while capping a huge day for him. He was 3-for-4 with two doubles and three runs batted in. Over his last 16 games, Mayberry is batting .412 (14-for-34) with five doubles, four home runs and 12 runs batted in.

“I think that my rhythm and timing have been a lot better and on top of that my pitch selection has been a lot better,” Mayberry said. “I think I have to allow them the opportunity to make a mistake and when they do you have to trust yourself that you’re going to put a good swing on it and hopefully the results will be there.”

Meanwhile, Brignac, who had a walk-off homer in Wednesday night’s game, once again came through in the clutch with a two-out pinch- hit double to put the Phillies on top for good. He said he was riding the moment from Wednesday night’s heroics.

“I definitely felt more comfortable at the plate today,” Brignac said. “It feels great in different situations and scenarios that come through for this team. For my teammates, it’s really a humbling feeling.”

In six innings on the mound, Kendrick allowed two runs (one earned) on seven hits with five strikeouts and no walks. He threw 105 pitches.

“He put zeroes up on the board and gave the offense a chance to score someruns and swing the bat,” Sandberg said.

After San Diego jumped out to its early lead, the Phillies cut the lead in half on an RBI single by shortstop Jimmy Rollins that scored Ben Revere, who doubled off San Diego starting pitcher Eric Stults to lead-off the inning. The Phillies tied the game in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly by Dom Brown that scored Marlon Byrd from third.

NOTES—Fire-balling rookie righthander made his Major League debut in the ninth inning of Thursday’s game with mixed results. Throwing pitches with speeds up to 100 miles per hour, Giles gave up a home run to Padres Yasmani Grandal, but then struck out with an 89-mile hour slider Alexi Amarista to end the game.
But while he’s enamored with his own velocity, Giles said his slider is most important pitch.

“If I get ahead in the count, it’s going to be a good wipe out pitch for me just to get it over with, shut ‘em on down and get them out early,” Giles said. “If I keep doing what I did today get ahead and throw that slider even if it’s in the dirt or for strikes, I’m going to do just fine.”

Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins is one hit away from tying Mike Schmidt’s career record for hits.


Phillies Bounce Back From No-Hitter With An Offensive Explosion Led by Howard’s Five RBIs

By Chris Murray
For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Ryan Howard was placed on the 15-Day disabled list on Saturday and will have an MRI on Sunday or Monday.  Photo by Webster Riddick.

Ryan Howard drove in a season-high five runs batted in against the Colorado Rockies. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA –Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard had been mired in a horrific slump in his last 10 games coming into Monday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.

He was batting .088 (3-for-34, 3 runs batted in) and 0-for-16 coming into the fourth inning of the series opener against Colorado. Suffice it to say, Howard was way overdue.

A little more than 24 hours after his team was no-hit by Josh Beckett and the Los Angeles Dodgers, Howard drove in a season-high five runs on three hits including a two-run homer to lead the Phillies to a 9-0 shutout win over the Colorado Rockies in front of 27, 289 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“It’s always good. It’s a crazy game, you’re bound to break out at some point,” Howard said. “(Monday) we were able to, so we just got to be able to take that into tomorrow, and the next day and the next day after that.”

For a team that suffered through a demoralizing Sunday afternoon at the hands of Beckett, seeing the hard-hitting Howard, who went 3-for-4 against the Rockies, break out of his slump was something like manna from heaven for a team that has been starving on offense.

“It was a good game for him to see him connect,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg. “He had some good swings today and made some things happen.”

Howard said he wanted to build on his last at-bat against Beckett when he hit a line drive out to center. For him, it was about hanging and there and finding places where the ball can drop in for a hit to get things going.

“Found some real estate, found some grass out there,” Howard said. “You go through those times, those lapses, those scuffles and all kinds of stuff. You just have to keep pressing. That’s what I was trying to do. It gets tough, it’s gets frustrating. It gets bad at times. I was trying to build off that last at-bat from (Sunday).”

The Phillies also got a big performance from second baseman Chase Utley who also went 3-for-4 with a run batted in. Centerfielder Ben Revere also had three hits including his seventh run batted in of the season. John Mayberry Jr. also contributed to the Phillies cause with a two-run homer as a pinch hitter in the Phillies five-run seventh inning.

The offensive explosion by the Phils ended a 10-game losing for starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (1-5), who got his last win on Aug. 11th of 2013. In six and two-thirds innings of work, he allowed no runs on six hits with two strikeouts and a walk.

“That’s what you’re looking for to pitch well and get the “W.” That’s what you want to do,” Kendrick said. “The guys were able to put up some runs. On the pitching side, we were able to keep them from scoring. I was just trying to worry about one pitch at a time and I was able to do that today.”

The Phillies got their first four runs off Rockies starting pitcher Jhoulys Chacin, who gave up seven hits including Howard’s sixth inning two-run homer. He pitched five innings and to two men in the sixth before leaving the game.

Phillies relievers allowed just one in the last two and one-third innings. The closest the Rockies came to scoring was in top of the seventh with two on and two out and their best hitter, Troy Tulowitzki coming to the plate.

But Phillies setup man Mike Adams fanned Tulowitzki to end the Colorado threat. The Phils scored five runs in their half of the seventh to put the game away.

While this game was good for the team’s psyche after going through a devastating no-hitter, the Phillies have to figure out a way to do this on a consistent basis. That’s something they’ve struggled with all season.

“That’s the potential that is possibly there with any given game the way I look at it,” Sandberg said. “It’s starts at the top of the order. Ben (Revere) getting on base and making things happen. Chase (Utley) has been solid. It’s good to see (Howard) connect on some balls and drive some runs in. It’s seems like the potential is there when we go out there. Hopefully, it’s the start of something with this new series against Colorado.”

Notes–Cliff Lee Needs further Evaluation

Phillies left-hander Cliff Lee, who is on the 15-day disabled list, will have his has strained left elbow re-evaluated over the next three days and has not been clear to pitch. While the team was hoping he would be back on June 3, Lee’s stint on the DL maybe longer than what the team planned.

Lee said he still felt some soreness in the elbow when he was tested by Phillies team doctors on Monday.

“It’s definitely better, but it’s still there,” Lee said. “That’s fine whenever I can do some of the tests they put me through if I can without feeling it at all, then I’ll start throw. Until then I got to continue to work on it and let it heal.”

Lee has as Grade 1-2 of the flexor tendon and had been complaining about soreness since April. Lee is 4-4 with a 3.18 earned run average.

Braun’s Three Homers, Errors Spoil Phillies Home Opener

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun


Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere has had his struggles in the outfield. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Phillies centerfielder Ben Revere has had his struggles in the outfield. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—What the Phillies will take today’s 10-4 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers in their 2014 home-opener is a series of things you just can’t do if you expect to be a winning team.
One- You can’t let a team’s best hitter have his way with your starting pitching. Ryan Braun, amid the loud boos and cries of “cheater” by Phillies fans, smacked three home runs-including a pair of three-run homers. Braun, who was suspended for 65 games in 2013 for using performance-enhancing drugs, was 3-for-5 with seven runs batted in after struggling in his first six games.
“We didn’t have an answer for Ryan Braun offensively,” said Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg.
After a solid outing last week against the Texas Rangers, starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick just could not find any rhythm and struggled with command of his pitches. In five innings, he allowed six runs (four earned) and nine hits including two of Braun’s home runs.
“My command was off,” Kendrick said. “I was up in the zone and when you’re up in the zone a lot, you gotta better chance of getting hit. I was up in the zone today. I was behind in some counts. My command was off.”
Braun also made an outstanding play in outfield when he robbed catcher Carlos Ruiz of a base hit when the Phillies had two on and two out in the second inning.
“I thought the play he made in the second inning was a freak play. We had a chance to a take a 3-1 lead, maybe more,” Sandberg said. “But they bounced back with our sloppy defense. They put four up (in the third inning). It was a huge momentum change all within two sides of an inning.”
Two-You can’t give teams extra outs by making errors in the field. The Phillies committed three and all three led to runs for the Brewers, who upped their record to 5-2. When the starting pitcher is struggling, the margin error is very thin.
“(Kendrick) wasn’t quite as sharp with the nine hits and he had two errors behind him. Overall, the story of the game was we didn’t execute in a lot of ways,” Sandberg said. “We didn’t get a sacrifice down, we didn’t turn a double-play. It was a not a good way to have an opening game. It was sloppy, but we’ll continue to work.”
Brewers starting pitcher Kyle Losch had a decent outing against the Phillies, going five innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with five walks and four strikeouts. The Phillies just could not get the big inning, scoring single runs in the first, fourth, fifth and sixth innings.

In spite of their struggles on offense, the Phillies (3-4)  trailed 6-4 going in the top of the seventh and were within striking distance of the Brewers.
But that’s when things started falling apart for the Phillies. With two out in the seventh, relief pitcher B.J. Rosenberg gave up a single to Milwaukee leftfielder Khris Davis. First baseman Mark Reynolds hit a long fly ball to the warning track in center field that popped out of Ben Revere’s glove which scored Davis from first to make score 7-4.
“I felt the fence coming and I took my eyes off the ball before I hit the fence trying to see where it was,” Revere said. “It went in and out of my glove right before I crashed into the fence.”

In the eighth, Braun hit his second three-run of the game that sellout crowd of 45, 061 at Citizen’s Bank Park to the exits and into the parking lot.



Mid-Season Report: Phils Believe They Can Contend in Second Half

Phillies need a centerfielder  to replace Ben Revere, who broke his right foot during Saturday's game against the Chicago White Sox. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Phillies need a centerfielder to replace Ben Revere, who broke his right foot during Saturday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

PHILADELPHIA—In spite of injuries to key players like Roy Halladay, Ryan Howard and now centerfielder Ben Revere who is on the 15-day disabled list because of a broken right foot, the Phillies (48-48) believe they can make a run in the second half of the season.

“If you come to the ball park and you got 25 guys and the biggest part of them want to play and they’re concentrating on playing the game right way and getting after it, you’d be surprised at what you can do,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Perhaps an even more daunting issue for the Phillies is whether they can be consistent enough to get beyond the .500 mark, something they weren’t able to do during the first half of the season.

“Obviously, You need to have some luck, but things are starting to bounce our way,” said Phillies second baseman Chase Utley.

Sunday’s 4-3 win over the Chicago White Sox put the Phillies at .500 mark for the first time since June 7. They have won eight of their last 12 and have won their last four series coming into the All-Star Break.  They are in third place, six and a half games behind the first place Atlanta Braves in the National League East.

“What’s meaningful is that we’re not out of the race,” said Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. “We have 60-something games left and that’s going to determine the season. It’s going to come down to the last week of the season and hopefully we’re popping bottles.”

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. likes where the Phillies are at this point of the season. At the very least, they are within striking distance.

“It’s pretty exciting actually for us to have gotten ourselves back into race and play a little bit better baseball,” Amaro said.  “Ben Revere has given us a lift, Michael Young has come up with some game-winning base hits for us.  (John) Lannan has pitched great. Delmon Young has come up with some big hits for us.”

Manuel said he’s still trying figure out how good his team can be even with all the injuries that the team has had this season.

“We’re still playing to see how good we really are,” Manuel said. “That’s how I look at it.”

On offense, the biggest stars on the Phillies have been Domonic Brown who leads the team in home runs with 23 and runs batted in with 65. With Howard suffering from a sore left knee throughout much of the season, Brown became the Phillies main source of power.

“He’s picked us up and he’s been getting his hits and he’s hit a lot of balls hard,” Manuel said. “He’s been consistent. He’s been out here and everyday and he’s been healthy. He’s developed into a heck of a player.”

Because of his outstanding performance in the first half, Brown is headed to his first All-Star game. A tremendous honor considering how fans and more than a few sports media people were calling for the team to trade him.

“I always set my goals and this definitely was one of them,” Brown said. “I’m just trying to keep moving forward and keep improving everyday.”

Before Revere hurt his foot on a foul ball in the 10th inning of the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, he was hitting the ball well and establishing himself as a pure leadoff hitter.

After batting .200 for the first month of the season, Revere has been on a tear.  Since May 1, he has batted 347. His current batting average is .305.  Before being placed on the disabled list, Revere had hit safely in 14 out of his last 15 games including 10 games.

“He was our hottest hitter,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He and Jimmy Rollins are our speed. He gave us a chance to play little ball at times. He was very important to our lineup and it’s a big blow.”

One thing likely to happen with Revere out is that Rollins might be moved back to the leadoff spot. Rollins said that he doesn’t care either or way, but if he is hitting at the No. 1 spot in the line he certainly help his team.

“Obviously if I’m up there and I can score on a lot of balls that some guys can’t,” Rollins said.  “That will help, but I really don’t care.”

With Halladay on the DL, the Phillies have had surprisingly decent starting pitching. Cliff Lee is having an All-Star year with a 10-3 record and a 2.86 ERA.  Jonathan Pettibone has secured a spot in the rotation in Halladay’s absence compiling a 5-3 record with a 3.89 ERA. John Lannen (2-3) has also been a big contributor in the Phillies rotation. Kyle Kcndrick (8-6, 3.86 ERA) has also been a consistent element among the starters.

After a horrendous start to the season, lefthander Cole Hamels in his last three outings is starting to find his groove.  In Sunday’s win over the Chicago White Sox, Hamels pitched eight and allowed two runs on eight hits, but get the decision.

“Hopefully, he’s gotten through his struggles and he is on a roll. That’s big for us. That’s real big for us,” Manuel said. “The last three games, I’m pleased with it. He’s definitely been very good the last two games. He’s had all the pitches and his command has been good.”

While the bullpen has pitched well in the series against the White Sox, it has struggled throughout much of the first half of the season. It ranks at the bottom of the National League in earned run average. Finding a good reliever at the July 31st- trade-deadline is priority for Amaro.

“We’ve got to pitch. If we don’t pitch well we don’t have a shot,” Amaro said.

Phillies Overcome Miscues to Win Series over Washington

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report

Kyle Kendrick had seven strong innings in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick had seven strong innings in win over Washington. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—On nights when the Phillies commit more than one error, it usually results in a win for the other team.

Thursday night, the Phillies committed four errors, but they somehow figured out a way to overcome their miscues and score enough runs to come away with a 3-1 win over the Washington Nationals in front of 40, 086 fans  at Citizen’s Bank Park

For the Phillies (46-47), it was their third straight series win as they took three out of four games from the second-place Nationals (47-45). The Phils are one game below that elusive .500 mark once again.

“We’re able to win some games,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “Right now, we’re having a good homestand. We’ve got Chicago (White Sox) coming in. We’ve got three games before the (All-Star) break. Our main priority is to win tomorrow’s game. “

Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (8-6) had a strong performance on the mound. In seven innings, he allowed just one on five hits with two strikeouts and just one walk.  Manuel said Kendrick did a good job of fighting his way out of some rough spots.

“I thought he really had to battle because we made some mistakes, there was some sloppy play and he was the guy that got us of out of some jams,” Manuel said.  “He made pitches when he had to. He did a super job.”

Somewhere sandwiched between some of the gaffes in the field, there was an outstanding defensive play in the first inning that helped Kendrick and prevented Washington from taking an early lead.

Nationals rightfielder Jayson Werth poked a two-out single to left. Bryce Harper tried to score from second base but was gunned down at home plate by Phillies left fielder Domonic Brown.

“It was huge,” said Kendrick. “Obviously in the first inning, we didn’t want to get down there. He made a great throw. It could have been a big game-changer for sure. …It was big.”

Every time the Phillies committed an error or there was a wild pitch, Kendrick would get out of it with a double play. In the first, a dropped fly ball Chase Utley, who committed three errors, was followed up by an outstanding throw to get Harper out at the plate.

A two errors by Utley in the fourth put Werth on third base with two outs. Kendrick got second baseman Anthony Rendon to fly out to right to end the threat.

In the fifth, a throwing error by third baseman Michael Young allowed Nats catcher Kurt Suzuki enabled him to reach second. But the Phillies survived that inning because Ruiz fielded Jordan Zimmerman’s bunt attempt and threw out Suzuki at third.

Kendrick got Denard Span to hit into an inning-ending double play that went from Ruf, who stepped on the bag at first get Span and then threw to Rollins covering second to get Jordan Zimmerman.

With the Nationals All-Star pitcher Jordan Zimmerman (12-4) on the mound, the Phillies were going to have to figure out ways to get some runs and they did just that. The Phillies got eight hits off Zimmerman and scored two runs. The Nats best pitcher had six strikeouts.

“It was good pitching on both sides,” Manuel said. “Zimmerman was good. He was real good. Kendrick was right there with him and rose to the occasion. Zimmerman did a good job. We were to score on him.”

The Phillies broke open a scoreless game in their half of the fifth inning and took a 1-0 lead on RBI single by center fielder Ben Revere that drove home Ruiz who reached on an infield and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Kendrick.

Washington evened the game in the top of the sixth inning on a sacrifice fly by Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman that drove home Harper, who reached on a one-out triple to right.

The Phillies took the lead for good in their have of the seventh inning.  First baseman Darin Ruf doubled to center. He was replaced at second John McDonald, who scored the go-ahead run on a 0-2 pinch-hit double to right center by Kevin Frandson.

“It was just choke and poke right there,” Frandsen said. “Seriously. I’m not a big strikeout guy. I was just going to put in play. You never know you put a ball in play, good things happen.”

The Phillies bullpen tandem of Antonio Bastardo and Jonathan Papelbon kept the Nationals hitless and scoreless in the eighth and ninth innings. Papelbon got his 20th save of the year.


Braves beat down Phillies in a 13-4 Rout

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Kyle Kendrick had a rough night against the Braves, giving up six runs on 12 hits including two home runs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick had a rough night against the Braves, giving up six runs on 12 hits including two home runs. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—If there was a bright spot on this Saturday evening for the Phillies, it was getting the news that leftfielder Domonic Brown and pitcher Cliff Lee made the National League All-Star team.

The rest of the night went down hill from there.

First, the Phillies placed first baseman Ryan Howard on the 15-day disabled list for his sore left knee. He is expected to have an MRI by Sunday or Monday to see if the knee needs surgery or just needs a rest.

“That’s a big blow,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It’s different with him not in there. His presence means something to us. He’s still a threat he’s got (43) RBI. We need Ryan in our lineup. At the same time, we’ve got to keep playing. We’ve got guys that can definitely perform better and help us win some games.”

As for the game itself, the competitive portion of Saturday’s nationally-televised game was over by the fifth inning as the Atlanta Braves gave the Phillies a good old-fashioned butt whuppin’ in a 13-4 rout on a sweltering hot night at Citizen’s Bank Park.

It was a game in which all the Phillies shortcomings came out in a big way, whether it was pitching, lack of hitting and poor play defensively.   The Phillies were definitely guilty of it.

Starting pitcher Kyle Kendrick (7-6) had a terrible outing. He gave up six runs on 12 hits in five innings on the mound.  He also gave up two home runs in his first two innings—a leadoff home run to shortstop Andrelton Simmons in the first inning and a two-run blast to second baseman Dan Uggla in the second.

It definitely wasn’t Kendrick’s night on the mound. He gave up three more in the fourth and fifth before his night ended.

“They were being aggressive and I wasn’t making quality pitches,” Kendrick said. “That’s what happens. They hit some balls that were down that found some holes. It their night with the score and the hits.”

Of course, the Phillies bullpen hand another lousy night by allowing seven more runs on seven hits that turned the game into a laugher for the Braves.  Phillies relievers-Joe Savery, Phillipe Aumont, and Jake Diekman- could not contain Braves hitters.  Atlanta scored in seven of the nine innings and finished the game with 19 hits.

“They put it on us,” Manuel said. “Our bullpen, of course, got some experience and they got hit pretty good and the Braves blew the game out.”

By the time the Phillies offense woke up in the late innings, they were already down 11-1. That’s because they couldn’t solve Tim Hudson (5-7). The veteran righthander allowed just one run on five hits in seven innings. He struck out four and didn’t allow a walk.

“(Hudson) was definitely tough, man,” Brown said. “He was mixing it in and out. When you have (catcher) Brian McCann back there, he’s not going to let you sit in one spot. (Hudson) was mixing it up great.”


Phillies Blast Marlins: Brown Homers Again, Kendrick Tosses a Complete Game

By Chris Murray

Kyle Kendrick allowed just one hit after Marlins got five hits and two runs in the first three inings. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick allowed just one hit after Marlins got five hits and two runs in the first three inings. Photo by Webster Riddick.

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—You have to figure that at some point Domonic Brown is going to slow down and come back down to earth with the rest of his fellow human beings at least a little bit, right?

Monday night was definitely not that night.

Brown continued his streak of knocking the cover off the ball by going 3-for-4 and hitting his ninth home run in 10 games while Kyle Kendrick pitched his first complete game of the season in the Phillies 7-2 win over the Miami Marlins at Citizen’s Bank Park.

After being named the National League’s Player of the Month and Player of the Week in the same day, Brown showed no signs of letting up and broke a close game open with a two-run homer in a four-run sixth inning.

Brown has five hits in his last six at-bats. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Brown has five hits in his last six at-bats. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Not only did Brown hit one out of the park, but so did catcher Erik Kratz and right fielder Delmon Young. The Phillies are proof positive of how one guy’s hot hitting can be contagious for the rest of the team.

“It’s great and it definitely affects and the people that are playing around him, it affects them, too,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “It kind of molds your offense together. When I was over in Cleveland, I never knew how much Albert Belle meant to our lineup until he was gone when everybody used to hit with him.”

Added Brown: “I always say hitting is contagious. I’m just trying to bring my energy to the ball club and we got a lot of guys out there that’s having a lot of fun as well, so we’re just trying to keep it up.”

Meanwhile, Kendrick had his best performance of the season by pitching all nine innings and allowing just two runs on six hits with five strikeouts and one walk. Kendrick also helped his own cause at the plate with a triple which featured a head-first slide into third and an RBI.

“My change-up was good later on in the game,” Kendrick said. “I was working ahead, trying to get strike ones. I felt like I was doing that a lot just pounding the strike zone.”

After the Marlins had taken a 2-0 lead in third inning on RBI singles by Derek Dietrich and Marcel Ozuna, Kendrick settled down and allowed just one hit the rest of the game.

“After the (third) inning, he started changing speeds on them and every now and then throwing back-to-back change-ups and mixing in a hook,” Manuel said. “When he got to his sinker, he was ahead in the count. He could put it out of the strike zone where they could chase it. He pitched a heck of a game.”

The Phillies offense scored its seven runs in a span of two innings starting with a home run by Kratz in the fifth inning. After Kendrick tripled, he was brought home on an RBI single by center fielder Ben Revere, who would later score on a ground out by second baseman Cesar Hernandez.

In the sixth, Ryan Howard cracked a lead-off double to the gap in left center. Then Brown launched his National League-leading 17th homer of the season to the left field seats. Marlins starting pitcher Tom Koehler started Brown with a couple of off-speed pitches.

“It definitely felt good, I’m not going to say I knew the off-speed was coming, but I was looking for it there and he left the pitch up,” Brown said. “I’ve always been a guy that’s fought and battled in the box, nothing’s changed there. It’s just connecting on the pitches that they’re leaving up.”

In his six at-bats, Brown has five hits and two home runs. He is now batting .291.

Brown’s homer was followed by a solo shot by Young. The Phillies added two more runs a ground by Kendrick that scored third baseman Freddy Galvis, who reached on a triple.

National League Player of the Week: Brown is Coming Up Big for Phillies, But Still Has Work to Do

Brown Has to Show Consistency Throughout the Season

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Domonic Brown is having an incredible month of May, he has hit homeruns in four of his last five games

Domonic Brown is having an incredible month of May, he has hit homeruns in four of his last five games

PHILADELPHIA—When the Phillies sent a struggling Domonic Brown back to the minors in 2011 after the big trade for Hunter Pence, the sports talk radio community as well as several local media outlets were calling on the Phillies to trade him.

I wasn’t so sure that he was a bust or the team’s next great superstar. Brown’s time with the team in 2011 and late last season just wasn’t enough time to make that assessment. I always thought the calls to jump ship on the kid were way too soon.

You have to see what a young player can do over a course of a couple of seasons before you just write somebody off. Besides, the Phillies have a history of getting rid of young guys in their farm system, i.e. Ferguson Jenkins and Ryne Sandberg, who end up doing well for other teams. Psst- those guys are Hall of Famers.

This week, the soft-spoken Brown garnered National League Player of the Week honors (May 20-26). In six games, he batted .348 with two doubles, a triple, two homeruns, seven runs batted in and had a .783 slugging percentage.

The 25-year-old left-handed slugger showed Phillies fans why he deserved such accolades with a two-home run performance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox at Citizen’s Bank Park.

Brown’s play really stood out last weekend in a Phillies win over the Washington Nationals when he doubled, homered and drove in two runs. In Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Red Sox at Fenway Park, he hit a solo homerun in the ninth inning.

In 27 games during the month of May leading into Thursday’s home game against the Boston Red Sox, Brown has hit 10 home runs. He currently leads the team in runs batted in with 32 and in homeruns with 13.

Brown has homered in three straight games and has hit the long-ball in four out of his last five games.

“He’s kind of doing some of the things that we’d hoped and expected of him. And he’s finally getting a chance to go out there and know that he’s in the lineup pretty much every day,” said Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. “I think that means a lot to players, and if he goes 0-for-4 he doesn’t have to really worry about it because he’s probably going to be in the lineup the next day.”

Brown said being sent back down to the minors at Lehigh Valley back 2011 was probably the best thing that happened to him because it made a better player and a better person.

“It made me a better man on and off the field going back to the minor leagues,” Brown said. “It’s good to be having some success, but I’m trying to keep it going.”

While it’s good to see that Brown is beginning to show why he was the Phillies top prospect, it is still too early to crown him as the next Phillies superstar just yet. I think we need to see if Brown can do throughout the season and not just one month of a season.

“It goes back to that consistency,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel. “He’s starting to be consistent in his hitting. He can get better. That’s why you have to leave him alone and just let him play. I don’t want him getting caught up in all the hoopla and people patting on the back and telling him how good he is. I want him to show how good he is. I like it when he hits.”

That’s the thing that Brown has to do over time. Anybody can have a hot month and the sun does shine on a dog’s ass every now and then. It’s still a long season.

At this point, Manuel is not going to tinker with moving him up in the lineup from about sixth to fifth and he’s definitely not moving into the fourth spot. At this point, Brown will stay where he is in the lineup and that’s cool with him.

“I’m not worried about that,” Brown said. “(Howard) and those other guys can do more things that I can. I’m just trying to do my little part, whatever that might be each night, and that’s fine as long as we’re getting ‘Ws’.”

Of course, the next thing that Brown has to face is when pitchers start making their adjustments and coming up with different ways to pitch to him. When you start coming of age and you start getting good, teams will scrutinize everything a player does down to the bone.

“He has to see what they’re trying to do and try to make adjustments to their adjustments,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard.

When Brown can be consistent in the face of teams pitching him differently, then you can crown him.

Brown, Kendrick Lead Phillies Past Boston


Kyle Kendrick has learned to pitch his way out of some tough jams this season. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick has learned to pitch his way out of some tough jams this season. Photo by Webster Riddick.

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

PHILADELPHIA—If you have learned anything about Kyle Kendrick this season is that he is becoming adept at pitching his way out of some difficult situations. Wednesday night’s game against the Boston Red Sox was a classic example.

With his team hanging onto a 3-1 lead, Kendrick started the sixth inning by giving up a home run to Boston right fielder Daniel Nava. Dustin Pedroia reached on error by first baseman Ryan Howard. Then Kendrick walked Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli.

But Kendrick got catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia to fly out to center and then retired the side by inducing Mike Carp by hitting into an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play.

“(Kendrick) has grown up in the last year and a half or so,” Phillies manager Charlie Manuel said afterward. “He pitches with more poise and he stays focused better. He pitched out of a terrible jam in the sixth inning. He did a good job.”

Kendrick’s escape from that situation along with two home runs from a hot Domonic Brown gave the Phillies a 4-3 win over the Boston Red Sox in interleague play Wednesday night at Citizen’s Bank Park.

The Phillies (26-27) will once again have a shot to move back to the .500 mark if they can come away with a win over the Red Sox on Thursday night.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve been fighting, grinding,” said Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard, who hit a solo home run in the second inning to tie the game at 1-1. “It’s a good position to be in, so if we can get there and get over it, then that’s great.”

Domonic Brown hit two home runs in the Phillies 4-3 win over Boston. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Domonic Brown hit two home runs in the Phillies 4-3 win over Boston. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Along with Kendrick’s Houdini act, Brown kept his torrid pace at the plate going with a two-home run performance. The second home run Brown hit in the eighth turned out to be game-winner. He became the first Phillies player since Howard last season to hit home runs in three straight games. The National League’s Player of the Week has homered in four out of his last five games.

“I’m just getting some pitches to hit,” said Brown, who has hit 10 home runs during the month of May. “The first at-bat, I swung at some bad pitches. I told myself to try not to do it the rest of the night. I got some good pitches to hit and I was just happy to hit them hard.”

Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard said he knew back in spring training that Brown was going to have a big season.

“I’m not surprised by it at all,” Howard said. “I know some people are. It’s just his mindset. He’s been playing free. He’s just going out there and swinging it.”

For the game, Kendrick (5-3) allowed just two runs on four hits with three walks and three strikeouts in six innings on the mound. He threw 100 pitches. More importantly, Kendrick rose to the occasion in a tough spot in that crucial sixth inning.

“I’m just confident in what I have and I feel like I can make quality pitch after quality pitch,” Kendrick said. “When you make a good pitch, you’ll get the call. I feel I can come back and get a ground ball and make a quality pitch to get out of it.”

The Phillies bullpen did their part as Antonio Bastardo and Mike Adams got the Phillies through the seventh and eighth without giving up a run. Closer Jonathan Papelbon, who got his 11th save of the season, gave up a run-scoring double to Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury to bring Boston within 4-3.




Phillies Can’t Do Anything Right in Shutout Loss to the Reds

By Chris Murray

For the Chris Murray Report and the Philadelphia Sunday Sun

Kyle Kendrick struggled in 10-0 loss to Cincinnati. Photo by Webster Riddick.

Kyle Kendrick struggled in 10-0 loss to Cincinnati. Photo by Webster Riddick.

PHILADELPHIA—You knew at some point this season that Kyle Kendrick (4-2) was going to have one of those games where he would struggle and his team would not score enough runs.

In Saturday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds, Kendrick found himself in several jams and was actually lucky to just give up four runs on eight hits with four walks in six innings on the mound.

Kendrick’s lackluster performance was further complicated by another episode of “Disappearing Acts” by the Phillies offense and the Phillies bullpen which enabled the Reds to turn the game into a 10-0 laugher of a victory over the Phils in front of 41,817 fans at Citizen’s Bank Park.

“Kendrick got hurt by a three-run homer from (Ryan) Hanigan, but at the same time he battled, he kept us in the game and of course, we couldn’t score and the bullpen let the game get out of hand,” said Phillies manager Charlie Manuel.

Pitching deep into counts and allowing a man to reach base in every inning during his tenure on the mound, Kendrick was constantly pitching his way out of trouble. The Phillies were fortunate that the lead wasn’t larger.

Kendrick’s worst inning of the game would occur in the second inning. After giving up consecutive singles to third baseman Todd Frazier and leftfielder Donald Lutz, catcher Ryan Hanigan crushed a three-homerun to the leftfield seats.

“It seemed like the whole game my command wasn’t very good and I fell behind a lot,” Kendrick said. “It was one of those days where I had to battle. It was a tough day all around.”

With the silence of the Phillies bats that’s all the runs the Reds would need. Before departing the game in the sixth, Kendrick gave up a run-producing double to Reds shortstop Zack Cozart that scored Hanigan.

Of course, the Phillies bullpen—B.J. Rosenburg, Jeremy Horst and Phillipe Aumount helped the Reds put the game out of reach by allowing the Reds to score four runs in the eighth. Cincinnati also added a pair of runs in the ninth. The runs in the eighth were charged to Rosenburg. For the game, Phillies relievers gave up six runs on eight hits.

“I think it’s about getting ahead in the count kind of thing,” said Phillies reliever Chad Durbin. “I thought Rosenburg’s stuff was outstanding today. He just had some poor luck. Horst gives up one there instead of a double.

“Phillipe makes a wild pitch, but it’s a matter of getting ahead. All of them did other than Horst. They got behind and they battled back.  It’s a day in, day out thing. It’s having a three-run lead instead of being down three.”

Cincinnati starter Bronson Arroyo (4-4) pitched seven and two-thirds innings and allowed no runs on six hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

Meanwhile, the Phillies big hitters-Ryan Howard and Chase Utley went a combined 1-for-7. By the time Howard doubled to begin the bottom of the ninth, the outcome was already decided.

While Manuel has said the team is going to eventually come around on the offensive end. He also said the team has to keep their heads up and not let things snow-ball into something worse.

“We’re in that area where we start doubting ourselves instead of just keep firing,” Manuel said. “You stay aggressive and keep working on trying to get a good ball to hit. Not trying to overdo it, but just stay within yourself and do something. … Never get down play 27 outs.”

As silent as their bats were, Phillies hitters were equally a quiet during postgame interviews as none were available to speak to reporters after the game. When the media gathered to interview Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins walked away and told reporters:

“There’s nothing to talk about, write what you saw.”

What fans saw today was a team that couldn’t do anything right.